[DEBATE] : Let us now re-double our efforts at building organs of popular power - SACP May Day message
dominic.tweedie at gmail.com
Fri May 1 21:25:48 BST 2009
SACP May Day Message 2009
“Build working class power to drive the implementation of the ANC
The SACP joins its alliance partners and millions of ordinary South Africans
in celebrating our ANC-led election victory. This was a victory of the
workers and poor of our country.
A victory the “analysts” said wasn’t going to happen
But it was a victory that, according to some, was not meant to be.
For the last several years, not a day has gone by without the majority of
political commentators and so-called analysts predicting failure and crisis
for our alliance. Not a day has gone by without ANC President, our national
president in waiting, cde Jacob Zuma, having to endure belittling insults
and allegations of all kinds.
COPE – BEE “third termers”
It was an overwhelming victory that was not meant to have happened because,
we were told, the Shikota splinter group would pose a “major threat” to the
The great majority of South Africans have once more demonstrated their
political wisdom and maturity by punishing political opportunism.
The leading personalities in COPE and their financial backers are all
“third-termers”. Defeated democratically at Polokwane, they wanted a
third-term for their tenders, a third-term for their private wealth
accumulation, a third-term for being the BEE favourites who always won the
state contracts, a third-term for ripping off public assets. They needed a
priest on their posters to try to cover up their true agenda.
But the overwhelming majority of South Africans were not fooled.
DA – swartgevaar, rooi-gevaar,
As we got to March and early April, as the ANC victory that was not meant to
happen looked more and more likely, so the desperation of opposition parties
grew. It was the DA that once more led the way with an increasingly
hysterical and personalised campaign. Their campaign said nothing about
jobs, or land and food, or houses, or health-care. It was reduced to two
words: “Stop Zuma”.
Once more, we were back with the old apartheid-era minority mobilisation
around minority fear of a majority. Once more, it was “swart gevaar” and,
because cde Zuma is supposedly a “hostage of the SACP and Cosatu” - “rooi
Of course, the ANC president is not the hostage of anyone – but the
chattering classes hate him because he has not distanced himself from the
And they hate the SACP and COSATU, because we did not fall into the trap
that they have been laying for us for the past 15 years. For 15 years and
more they have been predicting that the left would split from the ANC. The
media even sometimes praised us and gave us headlines if we raised concerns
about the ANC-government. They pretended to mistake our constructive
concerns for oppositionism. It is a tiny right-wing that has split from the
ANC, not the left.
The bourgeoisie wants the SACP and COSATU to split from the ANC, not so that
we can run the country, but so that THEY can run the ANC. They want the ANC
and its leadership to be THEIR hostages. Those dreams have been defeated!!
In the run-up to April 22, we also had a “two-thirds gevaar” campaign.
The ANC and its allies were supposedly going to use a two-thirds majority to
change the constitution. Who was spreading this lie?
In the weeks before the election, FW De Klerk emerged from deep obscurity to
make this claim. Let’s remind De Klerk of a past he thinks we have
forgotten. In 1991 and 1992, then President De Klerk was still trying to
prevent a non-racial, majority-rule constitution. Amongst other things, he
was proposing that we should have three rotating presidents written into our
constitution!! Cde Chris Hani had to die before De Klerk and his National
Party finally shifted from attempts to block our new constitution. And now
HE, De Klerk, is presenting himself as a great champion of this
The “two-thirds gevaar” campaign was also taken up by Zille. But what are
the democratic credentials of her Party? Not so very long ago, during the
era of apartheid, the Progressive Party (the fore-runner of today’s DA) –
opposed apartheid in name, but argued that the majority of blacks in SA were
not yet “ready” to vote. They called for a “qualified franchise” – only a
minority of black persons with enough property or education were considered
fit to be “citizens” of SA.
It is true that in the recent period, the DA has not argued for a “qualified
franchise”, but that is only because it thinks it has found a much more
effective weapon for achieving the same result. That weapon is called “the
free market” – they don’t need pass laws, or group areas, or forced
removals, or a qualified franchises, because the so-called “free market” and
its price tag excludes the great majority of workers and poor from their
suburbs, from their golf-courses, from their holiday resorts, from their
board-rooms, from their schools, from their private health-care clinics
…unless, of course, workers are there to tidy up their mess as cleaners and
sweepers, as casualised security guards watching over their ill-begotten
And the DA wants to extend the boundaries of their “free market” empire
–which is why they say there must be more privatisation, a more flexible
labour market, and why there must be no central planning, no developmental
state, no cadre deployment, no affirmative action, no broad-based
And this goes to the heart of the matter. All of these so-called “defenders
of the constitution” and of the “rule of law” – the De Klerks, the DA’s, and
the COPEs - want to separate the constitution from social and economic
realities. Yet, that is in direct contradiction with the actual letter and
spirit of our democratic constitution. The opposition parties want to
separate equality in NAME, from equality in FACT. They want to invoke the
“rule of law” to protect the privileges of a minority against the legitimate
aspirations and needs of the majority.
When Mosioua Lekota arrogantly proclaimed that he was serving “divorce
papers” on the ANC…he was, in fact, serving divorce papers on the working
class and poor majority of South Africa.
But enough about the opposition parties.
What lessons must the working class draw from these elections?
There are FOUR key issues:
ONE – Sustain the momentum, build popular organisation
April 22 is a strong indication that the process of internal renewal and
revitalisation of the ANC has now been further deepened and consolidated.
The first big step in this process of renewal and revitalisation was marked
by the Polokwane, ANC National Conference in December 2007. Now April 22 has
taken this a step forward.
One of the many messages of congratulation that the ANC received from its
international allies came from the Russian Communist Party. Speaking from
its own experience of being in power, and then of losing power dramatically
in the early 1990s, this is part of what the message says:
“It is well known that it is easier to get on top than to stay on top.”
It then goes on to say:
“The ANC convincingly proved that a party that relied on the people not only
during the liberation struggle but also in the process of national
reconstruction would retain support of the masses.
“We believe that an important ingredient of the ANC success is its
decades-long alliance with other progressive forces – South African
Communist Party and Congress of South African Trade Unions.”
There is much truth in this message.
We all know, that in the midst of our third-term as an ANC ruling party,
there were increasing signs of deterioration – careerism, factionalism,
aloofness, technocratic arrogance, denialism about the real situation on the
ground, attempts to marginalize the alliance partners, and even to weaken
ANC branch activism.
Polokwane was the beginning of renewal. April 22^nd 2009 and the campaign
that preceded it continued the process. Once more, in this election
campaign, we have reminded ourselves that the only way to renew a ruling
party and movement, is through re-connecting with our mass base, through
daily door-to-door work in our communities and work-places. The election is
over, but the struggle continues.
Let us sustain the spirit of volunteerism that we have built through
mobilisation in the election campaign.
Let us transform our election machinery into street committees, worker
locals, land committees, community policing forums, health committees,
school governing bodies – in short, let us now re-double our efforts at
building organs of popular power.
Through programmes of action, let us strengthen our branch-level and
shop-floor organisation. We have won an overwhelming electoral victory – now
let us fill that space with popular organisation.
TWO – No blank cheque!
In celebrating our overwhelming election victory, we would be making a big
mistake if we thought that the workers and poor of our country had given the
ANC-alliance a blank cheque to rule for another 5 years.
Over 65% of SA’s electorate have voted to defend their organisation and to
defend their gains.
But our mass base is also telling us that we must address with determination
and discipline many issues.
In particular, corruption is a scourge that we must deal with. We must do
this with renewed vigour, without fear or favour. Corruption is the route
through which the bourgeoisie hi-jacks our revolution, and undermines
transformation. Corruption is the theft of public resources.
The SACP salutes the role played by COSATU affiliates in exposing corruption
in our parastatals. Let us build working class and community vigilance to
expose and root out the theft of public property.
THREE – Build working class unity across ethnic divides!
Where the opposition has made some gains – like the DA in the Western Cape –
it is on the basis of our own disunity and our own mistakes. But is also on
the basis of the opposition mobilising minority fears and prejudices.
We have defended and consolidated our mass African base in these elections.
But as the ANC-led alliance, we are committed to building a non-racial SA.
Just as corruption creates a space for the capitalist class to hijack our
revolution - so minority fears and ethnic mobilisation also creates an
electoral space for the neo-liberal agenda.
To combat this danger, the trade union movement has a particular
Apartheid settlement patterns still continue in our country. The DA
mobilises minorities as residential communities.
But the capitalist work-place brings workers of different back-grounds
together, and exploits them all. Let us build a non-racial SA, rooted in our
trade union and work-place struggles! We call on the working class to close
ranks, to unite, to drive forward our non-racial, democratic revolution.
FOUR – Now let us implement our election programme!
At the heart of our ANC-alliance election manifesto is a commitment to
decent work and sustainable livelihoods for all South Africans.
With the global capitalist melt-down, this commitment has become more
relevant than ever.
The commercial newspapers are talking about a “crisis” - as if it was
something new. But for working people around the world, not least for the
workers and poor of SA, life is always a crisis. The crisis of low pay, the
crisis of casualisation, the crisis of unemployment, the crisis of housing,
the crisis of poor public transport and long hours of waiting, the crisis of
health-care and poor education for our children, the crisis of food prices,
the crisis of old-age.
This new global melt-down is not caused by workers. It is a crisis brought
about by an unsustainable world capitalist system in which a tiny minority
owns and controls most of the world’s resources. Their greed, their bonus
payments, their Reserve Bank neo-liberal policies, their unregulated banks,
their tax havens have brought about this meltdown. But now, as always, they
are trying to make the workers and poor carry the major burden.
But workers and progressive forces all around the world are not taking this
lying down. From London, to Athens, to Iceland, throughout Latin America, to
small Pacific islands like Guadeloupe (where there has been a month long
general strike), there are growing waves of popular mobilisation. Our own
election mobilisation must be seen as part of the global wave in response to
the capitalist crisis.
MAKE THE CAPITALISTS PAY FOR THE CAPITALIST CRISIS!!
Here in SA, to save jobs we must now ensure that the NEDLAC framework
agreement is implemented with a sense of urgency by the new ANC
To save jobs, we must, amongst other things, ensure that we greatly expand
the BUY LOCAL campaign.
Tendering policies from government departments and from parastatals must now
put much greater emphasis on job creation. The same with BEE score-cards –
the priority must be job creation potential.
Government’s infrastructure spending – the Eskom generation-capacity
spending, the purchase of buses for 2010 – all of these things must be much
better aligned with local industrial policy. We must stop importing goods
and components that we can manufacture here.
Labour brokers must be toughly regulated. The casualisation of workers is a
deliberate ploy to evade our progressive labour market legislation.
Commitments to improve the wages and conditions of public sector workers
must be accelerated.
The Expanded Works Programme must be massified and consideration must be
given to making these jobs more permanent – and not just a few months of
The role of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAS) must be
reviewed and greatly improved.
Our Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) – like the DBSA, IDC and Land
Bank – and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) – must stop prioritising
narrow BEE and focus centrally on social development and job creation.
Let us get down to work to drive a progressive rural development, land and
agrarian transformation for food production, food security and food
sovereignty. Let us stop approaching land and agrarian reform from a narrow
BEE perspective. Let us empower the mass of our people in the rural areas to
work the land for their benefit!
Let us start in earnest to implement the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Let us, during this May Day, give a clear message to the bosses in the
private capitalist health sector that they will face the might of South
Africa’s working class if they try to sabotage the efforts of building the
Our social security net must be defended, and expanded.
ON APRIL 22, THE WORKERS AND POOR OF OUR COUNTRY DEFENDED THEIR
ORGANISATION, THEIR MOVEMENT, THEIR GAINS.
NOW, LET US ENSURE OUR ELECTORAL VICTORY IS TRANSLATED INTO REVOLUTIONARY
ADVANCES ON THE GROUND!!
SOCIALISM IS THE FUTURE…BUILD IT NOW!
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